Ocean's 8, the spin-off of the 2001 Ocean's 11 movie, is a decent way to spend a drizzly, foggy Saturday afternoon. It's lowkey escapist fun in a slickly directed package, and sometimes, that's all a moviegoer needs to make a film worth the price of admission (especially when we're three tweet away from going to war with CANADA). However, Ocean's 8, even with its trophy-hogging cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sara Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna and Awkwafina, exemplifies exactly how stifling with Hollywood's obsession with remakes and reboots can be.
Like the 2001 film (which was a remake of the 1960 film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.), Ocean's 8 follows the freshly paroled Debbie Ocean as she assembles a crew to both rob the famous Met Gala and seek revenge on the man who landed her in prison five years ago. It begins with promise in the form a cheeky montage that shows just how good of a criminal Debbie is. Within hours from being released from prison, she's stolen, grifted and scammed her way into designer clothes and luxury suite at posh hotel. Unfortunately, the all of the potential brimming in this montage is never realized in the 100 somewhat boring minutes that follow.
Mostly because this is a spin-off of a remake of an original film from 60 years ago.
Despite the fact that director Gary Ross put together an impressive roster of stars, Ocean's 8 is forced to hit all of the same tired plot points as its predecessor and never has the chance to create its own magic and never fully recaptures that of the Ocean's 11. Like Debbie Ocean was for five years, eight months and 12 days, the film is imprisoned by its previous source material. Thus, if you've seen Ocean's 11 (or if you're like me and watch it every time it comes on TNT), it steals any suspense the movie would have otherwise cultivated.
Furthermore, the movie has placid baseline it rarely strays from. There's a watchable texture, thanks to Cate Blanchett's Lou, who's never met a prop or an accessory she didn't like, though part of me wonders if it's to keep her occupied and awake during filming. Rising star Awkwafina also masterfully outweirds the Lady of Strange, Carter.
It's not rocket science that women are different than men, and it's a cute (and a little too obvious) twist that Ocean's switched the score from casinos and cash to the Met Gala and gemstones. And there's definitely a "woman get stuff done" joke in there about Debbie and Crew taking a bigger haul with one-third less of the staff her big brother needed in 11. However, another fundamental flaw in reboots is that they shouldn't be interchangeable. Women approach situations differently because of their experiences and sex. They process emotion far differently than men, too. However, none of these accomplished Oscar-winning, Emmy-winning or up-and-coming actresses were given much meat to gnaw on, except for Carter and Hathaway, and even those moments are few and far between. It's a sad waste of a treasure that the talents of this insanely awesome cast are never fully mined.
The easiest way to solve the conundrum of Ocean's 8 is the painfully simple: Stop. Making. Reboots. At its core, 8 is a movie about women robbing an event. Without being forced to pay homage or reference Ocean's 11, the writers, cast and directors would be free to tell an original story, create new characters, and unpredictable stakes.
8 brought in an impressive $41.5 million this weekend, so it's not a big gamble to predict that there will be a sequel. Remember, that's a sequel of spin-off of a remake of an original movie. The further down the reboot rabbithole you get, the less options you have unless Gary Ross and Co. decide to break the mold completely throw out the book entirely.